Caio Rants: Too Many Shared Universes?

Welcome to another segment of...

Its a interesting age we live in: 20 years ago nobody would believe that there would have been superhero movies being popular outside of "nerdy" circles, much less there would have been 2 movies per year, and all of them a financial successes. Because that is pretty much what is going on these days with Marvel Studios. Trying to emulate their success, DC finally put out their tampons and work on their own cinematic universe, having recently announced their complete list of movies in 5 years from now, including a Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Shazam, a Green Lantern reboot and most surprisingly of all, a Suicide Squad and a Justice League in two parts.

Its not just comic publishers that want a piece of that cake, Sony currently holds the rights to Amazing Spider-Man and plans on making a Black Cat spin off as well as a Sinister Six movie that may or may not be Amazing Spider-Man 3. Not just superheroes getting milked of all its worth: Universal Pictures wants to make a horror cinematic universe with Dracula Untold being the starting piece which will be followed by a Mummy reboot (considering how the movie is doing at the box office, its doubtful that will happen but who knows?), and Sony ALSO has plans to create a Robin Hood Cinematic Universe, of all things. And that is not even counting the next Star Wars trilogy with countless rumors of spin-off movies in the near future.

Wow, this seems like its too good to be true, right? No geek or nerd from 10 or 20 years ago would dream there would have been such cultural relevance would have been possible. It looks as if movie studios realize how big crossover events are a reliable source of income ever since the Avengers made billions in the box office. At some point a question needs to be asked: How does it benefit us, the audience, for every property to be turned into into a sprawling franchise? Does there really have to be the promise of multiple sequels and spin-offs to make a movie worth seeing? Have fans reached a point where they can’t even enjoy a good, solid, standalone adventure ? Or even worse, have they reached the point where they don’t even demand stories that stand on their ownwhen they are supposed to be all little puzzle parts of one big epic saga?

Sure, Marvel has been making a good job with their movies - despite all the build up for Avengers: Age of Ultron, most of the movies released so far managed to retain their own self-contained story (regardless of their quality). Other studios though, not so much. My main beef with Sony's Amazing Spider-Man movies is that they are too ambitious for their own good - they want to tell this over-arching storyline that just one movie can't contain and they have to leave setpieces to build up. The end result? Their movies leave with so many plotlines still hanging and so many questions unanswered and hopes to answer these in the next installment. A similar problem I have with the Hobbit movies being stretched out into a trilogy when it really didn't need to be. All these movies are already 3-hours long, and you just going to make a trilogy out of a book (that while not necessarily tiny) is much smaller than the Lord of the Rings was.

Sequel baiting is nothing new in media and isn't entirely bad either, but we are living in a time were companies just can't help but shove into movies anyways. There were even reports that Dracula Untold was originally meant to be a standalone story too (in spite of being a origin story) by the time the movie was finished and the time the first trailer was released. Then, the studio execs had some several scenes added, some reshot and other scenes cut out entirely after production was done, solely to hop into the shared universe wagon.

Companies are setting up some unrealistic expectations about their products these days, they are certain that everyone is going to love these movies and they can go toe-to-toe with Marvel. If that was the case, Amazing Spider-Man wouldn't have been struggling with the financial results and the mixed reception over the second movie. That is the thing though, in the past, very rarely studios would try out again in case of underperformances or overwhelmingly negative reviews, as that was more or less what prevented Superman Returns from getting another sequel, as DC Comics/Warner lacked the necessary faith in their project. Had Man of Steel being released a decade or two before and the same fallout ensued, you can bet your ass that DC would never have touched Superman again in years. Nowadays, they are just too desperate to be left in the dust and are rushing out their possible plans to rival Marvel Studios, which is worrying fans about the overall quality.

While Marvel Studios is on the top at the moment and has yet to face any serious adversity, I need to remind you that what is good for a company isn't necessarily good for the audience. They already released their financially successful stinkers in the past and their TV spin-off Marvel's Agents of SHIELD hasn't been quite the stuff of legends. But at one moment, creators will get probably lazy to even provide stories with proper beginning, middle and end and fans will get "franchise fatigue" having to wait for long cycles of 1 or 2 years to even see the cliffhanger's resolution. With all that said, its just a hypothetical case and I am not denouncing the excess of shared universes as a bad thing, but its something that we should be on watch out for.

Thank you guys for reading it, I appreciated your comments. What are your views on the recent news?

See ya all next time =P

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Caio Reviews: Hercules (2014)

No matter how far you go, man cannot escape his fate. Who are you? Are you a murderer? Are you a mercenary who turns his back on the innocent? We believe in you! We have faith in you! Remember the deeds you have performed, the labors you have overcome! Are you only the legend, or are you truth behind the legend? Now, tell me, WHO ARE YOU?

Hercules: I AM HERCULES!

There is something tragic (yet unintentionally comic in a very dark way) about two contestants trying to best each other at what they do and somehow both of them fail spectacularly. There were two Hercules movies released this year and both of them were box office disasters for different circumstances. First, there was Legend of Hercules starring Kevin Lutz (from Twilight fame), which was lambasted by both critics and viewers as well as released on January - the official dumping ground for movies. And more recently Hercules starred by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson that was launched on August coincidently around the same time as an movie featuring an talking raccoon and a walking-tree and... I don't think I need to elaborate why this movie failed anyways. So much so it only got here Brazil an month after its initial release, so I decided to review it. Still, its sad since I was genuinely looking up for this movie, that is up until the trailers came along, and my reaction was pretty much a "Ehhhhhh..."

The lesson learned? Don't be released along any Marvel movies under any fecking circumstance

If you've seen only the trailers and ignored pretty much all plot summary of the movie, you would be forgiven for thinking this is an movie based on Hercules' epic labors, as the the videos depict him fighting against mythical creatures like the Nemean Lion, the Erymanthean Boar and the Lernean Hydra. Actually, this is not what the movie is about; the movie takes place after Hercules completed his tasks, but he still hasn't found peace after his family's murder and has nothing else to live for, until he is summoned to the assist the Kingdom of Thrace, which is being assaulted by a rogue warlord and his invading forces and tasked with leading a band of mercenaries and misfits to defend their land.

See, the biggest drawback this movie has is the downplay of its supernatural elements. The most epic scenes with the monsters featured in the trailer are only flashback sequences and depicted as fanciful exaggerations to build up Hercules' legend. Gods are mentioned often but they never appear in the story and the movie glosses over whether Hercules is truly a demigod or a really, really strong but otherwise normal human. At its core, Hercules is a realistic sword and sandal movie like 300 or the Spartacus TV show with human warriors fighting against a big motherf*cker in a lion skin with a club.

Curiously, while it hasn't been made clear by anyone but this movie is really based on a comic series named Hercules: the Thracian Wars, which follows the same realistic formula as described above. One could argue that they can't fault the movie for following the source material, but in the other hand, the filmmakers made no effort to associate itself with it either. Not that there is a problem with a mythical tale being told in a realistic fashion; I was reminded of 2004's King Arthur with Clive Owen, Keira Knighthley and Ioan Gruffud, and I MOSTLY like that movie, as I am not too keen on attempted historical accurate depictions of the Arthurian legend, but that movie possessed some surprisingly good acting and a charismatic cast of characters. Something which unfortunately this movie lacks.

You wouldn't think someone like the Rock wouldn't have an problem playing an character like Hercules, but somehow he feels awfully miscast. He is trying his best to channel the mighty son of Zeus, but he comes across as a wrestler doing a Hercules cosplay than anything else (its most noticeable when he intentionally acts over-the-top during battle scenes). The rest of the cast is passable I guess, you have the Amazon-lady who doesn't take shit, the lovable rogue, the quiet brute who doesn't say much... Oh sh*t I think I just described half the protagonists of Guardians of the Galaxy here, except with none of their charisma. The only character from Hercules' coterie that stands out is Ian McShane's character, a seer who believes he is fated to die through a burning spear. John Hurt holds the position of "big name actor embarrassing himself", albeit not only as much as other actors in previous movies I reviewed. Then we have Princess Megara, played by Irina Shayk, who doesn't appear in the movie outside of flashbacks/dream sequences or any many lines of dialogue. At least she gets a brief "HELLOOO NURSE" moment that makes up for it. Kinda.

It seems Meg is a hot chick in whatever version of Hercules

As far as action scenes go, they are pretty brutal for a PG-13 movie, but still very much family friendly, not enough to warrant R-Rating. Personally I don't hold the belief that a adult rating automatically makes every movie better *cough* A Good Day to Die Hard *cough*, but if this movie had to appeal to a certain crowd like Spartacus fans, then it would have gone full-blown sex and gruesome violence to make it acceptable. Otherwise. it's very cheesy in the same way as the Scorpion King (which was also starred by Dwayne Johnson). Finally, the movie offers a plot twist, which I won't spoil it for you, but I will say it doesn't necessarily make the story any better or memorable.

Final Rating

4/10 - 2014's Hercules is the definition of meh - not very good, but also not bad enough to rage. It could have been more entertaining if it was all about his 12 Labours, so at the very least, loads of people wouldn't feel like they were lied to by the impressive trailers. As it stands, its a very forgettable flick to sit through and very hard to recommend even to the most hardcore fans of fantasy shlock. Outside of Irina Shayk's ass, I'd be hard pressed to name anything remarkable about it.

Thank you guys for reading it. I hope you enjoyed it and don't forget to comment and share your opinion. I'd like to inform that my Dracula Untold review won't come out immediately for a couple of reasons; first off, the movie will only be released in Brazil at the end of October (to coincide with an Halloween release) and second, I agreed to review the movie along with @TheAcidSkull, but he is taking a leave from the site, so I will wait his return. Until then, I have a special vampire review planned in to make up for it.

I appreciate your understanding, see ya next time :P

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Caio Reviews: Grand Theft Auto San Andreas

After five years on the East Coast, it was time to go home...

Hey guys, it has been a long time since I reviewed an video game (or anything not related to vampires for that matter), so I think I should probably talk about one of my favorite classic ones of all time. If you are familiar with Grand Theft Auto, two things comes to mind: open world crime game and controversy. True to that, GTA has never been an stranger to the latter category and has been received with hell of love by gamers and just like any other game, this was pretty much San Andreas' reception. Due to combining all the best elements from previous games like huge sandbox, gang respect, plethora of vehicles and improve on several other aspects, it was considered the best one in the series hands down and setting up the standard for which every open world game that would come afterwards should be measured. With so many open world games of quality released nowadays, I decided to dig up this old gem and reviewed by current standards to see how well it holds up.

Summary

Note: this game takes place before any of the previous installments (notice how there is no number in the title) with some of their main characters featuring in an cameo and making it more or less an prequel, except the story and characters stand in its own right.

CJ (in the right) with his brother Sweet

Set in 1991, former gang member Carl "CJ" Johnson returns to his home in Los Santos (a fictional version of Los Angeles) to bury his recently murdered mother Beverly. Having spent 5 years in the east coast, cleaning up his acts and hoping to leave his past behind, he is thrust back into it when he witness his hood - the Grove Street - an shadow of its former glory and absolutely estranged from his own family members. He aims to restore it back to power, being opposed by their rival gangs like the Ballas and the Vagos, that have grown more powerful due to drugs trade, some corrupt Grove member who also wants an slice of that cake and the C.R.A.S.H. Police Division, who blackmails CJ by placing some implicating evidence. He will do anything to overcome these obstacles to rise above his station and more importantly, find an place for himself.

Plot and Characters

At first glance, the story is nothing too deep or overly satirical like works that Rockstar would develop later, but its well presented in a way that keeps you engaged and you may find yourself already familiar the characters. The central theme belying the focus of gang warfare is that how much you want to move up in life and abandon your roots or even your principles for that. Loyalty, betrayal and revenge drive up the theme. It's all these little things that the game don't bash your head with it, that you can notice if you are willing to look up beyond for what it is.

CJ is the first attempt at an more likable protagonist, at least compared to his predecessors, depicted as an affable, generally nice individual with an sympathetic past, even if his motives are less than heroic. Unfortunately, his personality didn't go well with most audiences, since many criticized the complete contrast between cutscenes and gameplay, since no matter how likable the story tries to present him, there is nothing stopping the player from going on a murdering rampage. You see, previous protagonists in GTA didn't have this problem; Tommy Vercetti was established to be an psychopath that would kill you for looking at him the wrong way and Claude was an blank slate with no personality at all.

The supporting characters are really great and the dialogue has some great lines. Ryder, Big Smoke and Mike Toreno are among the most hilarious ones. The game's main villain Officer Tenpenny is an delightful corrupt piece-of-sh*t that you just love to hate and can't wait to gun down. Some characters don't fare better than others unfortunately, like Sweet, CJ's older brother, who still keeps giving him a lot of sh*t over abandoning his roots and never moves past this scthick, not even when CJ makes an name for himself and becomes more or less famous.

Gameplay

Oh wait, he just entered his home? Leave him be, guys. Forget this ever happened.

What there is to say about an third-person open world crime sandbox that you probably don't already know at this point? Oh well, I might as well describe how the gameplay aspects feel. Shooting is nice, even if the cover doesn't really do much and alto-targeting can be an pain, since you can't move from enemy to enemy very easily. Driving feels solid, although vehicles are a lot more fragile than you think they are - it takes surprisingly small effort to damage them to the point they will explode and even have them flip upside down and this includes vehicles like bicycles too because f*ck you. Police officers can be relentless at first glance as they will not stop pursuing with an 3-star rating from up, and if you are on foot, they can spawn from virtually everywhere, but this could have been easily solved by driving to an Sprain & Paint shop which changes your car's painting or just visiting your safehouse to save the game, advancing the time in 6 hours.

San Andreas offers an good mission variety with some chasing, drive-bys and some stealth sequences, although one must be warned that at that point in the series, it was considered an GTA tradition to not have checkpoints under absolute any circumstances. If you failed an mission, you had to start it all over again - that is it. If you die or get arrested in or out of missions, you have your weapons removed along with some of your money. And make no mistake this game is actually quite hard, but for the wrong reasons. Flying missions for example are awful due to the stiff controls, but thankfully they don't appear until much later in the game. An particularly infamous mission called "The Wrong Side of the Tracks" has you driving an motocycle alongside an moving train while your friend Big Smoke shoots at some rival gang members on top of the train. You have to ride at an the perfect position just so that Smoke can fire at them, since he is an terrible shot and can only hit one at the time. Be ready to hear "All you had to do is follow the goddamn train, CJ".

No seriously, f*ck this mission.

For an hard game as this, it was surprisingly quite easy to make money . You see, the first few missions rewards you with respect and a not too substantial amounts of cash, but if you decide to jack an firefighter truck and press a button to start an side mission where you have to put out fires under an time limit, you can earn lots amounts of money as with each fire put down, your rewards increases. And before the first act ends, an gang territory mechanic is introduced requiring CJ to take over some enemy territory by attacking some enemies and then taking it over for the grove, earning some money and revenue. Trust me you are going to need every money you make, since you have to re-stash all ammo and body armor you have or replace what you lost if you were wasted/busted.

The map is certainly colossal as it includes three major land sections including urban areas and country sides, with plenty of collectibles to find as well as some small activities that can be done for their own sake like visiting the bar, casinos, basketball fiels and so on. Actually it can be considered too big since in order to see anything you want to, you have to do a lot of tedious driving, as fast travel wasn't created at this point yet. However, its not like the whole map is open to you from the beginning, since there are road blocks preventing you from going to other regions until the plots call for it. Try to bypass them and you will have an 4-wanted level rating with some angry as f*ck cops breathing down your neck. Its the game's nice way of saying "You are straying too far from where we want to. Get back before we end you!"Oh yeah, this might be disingenuous to bring up, but this was the first game to allow the character to swim. Before San Andreas, you would drown if you happen to touch an neck-deep body of water.

Also RPG elements are introduced including stuff like Driving, Fat, Fitness, Stamina, Gang Leadership, but most of these stats offer little change in gameplay and they require a lot of grinding to see any visible results. You want to get really buff? You better bust yourself in the gym as much as your body can take. You can even get fat by eating like a pig, even if eating too much will make you puke. Melee combat get some nice evolutions, as you can learn different schools and even take martial arts. Unfortunately these things are ultimately useless, since you seldom find enemies willing to engage in melee and even if some moves can kill in one hit if pulled off correctly, why would you ever need to use them if you have several weapons that can do just that? Because its cool, that is why.

An final word of advice. Cheat codes are insanely fun and definitely make the combat much easier after so many frustration attempts, however be warned that they cause some serious glitchs and bugs on the save file they are used as they can prevent from certain missions of being completed along with countless negative effects. At really best, trying to use some cheats like health and armor won't have effect during missions or you will fail instantly if you type them. If you want to apply the more outlandish type of cheat code or the ones that can't be turned off, better use it on a another safe file than what you are currently using just in case and then you can go wild.

Pfft... GTA was already Saints Row before it was Saints Row.

Visual and Sound Effects

Even for the time they were released, graphics are just average - they aren't necessarily bad, but nothing groundbreaking. Stones and trees textures look really grainy and almost if made from paper. The character models looked very plastic, animations were stiff outside of cutscenes, faces were unable to convey emotion and there was always something about characters' hands, their finger seemed to be glued all together. Thankfully the voice acting and the good writing makes up for the limited graphics, and damn do they have some good ones here. Samuel L. Jackson and JAMES WOODS certainly do not get wasted here and make some hilarious deliveries. The radio stations are quite alright to listen, even if I just listen to Radio Los Santos the most, as they are the ones with music that fitted the setting the better, and the rest are just meh.

Final Rating

7/10 - It was quite interesting to see how this game fares today once you remove the nostalgia filter. Sure, many of the flaws are due to limitations given the time it was made rather than downright laziness, but this game still retains some of its charm and fun aspects which makes it an classic. Its worth checking out for any open-world fan, but beware of all the warnings made here.

Thank you guys for reading it. I will see if I can get my reviews back on track and do a lot more of these more frequently. I hope you guys enjoy it and don't forget to share your opinion in the comments. See ya next time =P

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Caio Rants: Why True Blood Sucks

WARNING: THIS RANT BLOG CONTAINS SPOILERS

Welcome to another segment of...

Is it as bad as Dexter's finale?

So, last Sunday HBO's TV series TRUE BLOOD aired it series finale, bringing to an end to ITS 7 seasons-long run. Reactions had being consistently negative, as it was with the general opinion of the last season, being criticized for being weak and dull; so much so that in the actual thread discussion on ComicVine was more about Penny Dreadful (a much better show) than True Blood and it has never been bumped again after the first episode. I've actually sat through this entire season out of morbid fascination and just to see how this trainwreck is supposed to end. At this point, I wonder if anyone still cares about the show anymore, but now looking back, it became more apparent than ever that True Blood was not always that good. Often hyped up as Twilight for adults, with sex, nudity and violence. An rather hilariously clueless claim I might say, since dark and edgy stuff don't necessarily mean its mature, nor its better. Doesn't matter your story has sex, nudity and violence, an adult-directed Twilight is still as bad so long as it has Twilight-level of writing and characters.

Back when it was starting out, vampires had once again become popular thanks to Twilight, which leaded the adaptation of many vampire novels to the TV and the big screen. One of these novels was "The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries" by Charlotte Harris, which was an supernatural romance/detective series that predated Twilight by 4 years and was set on an alternate universe which vampires are not only real, but they had revealed their existence to humans with the creation of a synthetic blood that allows them to coexist with humans since they don't have to drink human's blood anymore.

The plot followed Sookie Stackhouse, an waitress from small Louisiana town of Bon Temps, that possess the strange ability to hear other people's thoughts which makes life a little problematic at times. However, her life changes drastically when she meets for a vampire for the first time. His name is Bill Compton and he used to live in Bon Temps a hundred years ago. She finds out that unlike humans, she can't hear his thoughts, which makes her instantly attracted to him. The two of them fall in love and through Bill, she finds herself entering the world of supernatural creatures as well discovering more about her true nature, that she is in truth, an fairy princess, descended from the King of Fae himself, capable of also emitting light from her hands and her blood can make vampires walk under daylight. The world building goes beyond Bon Temps and we learn an much bigger picture that makes that small town an pimple on a paper sheet. There are not only vampires, but werewolves, shapeshifters, fairies and demigods of immense power sharing the same universe.

Unlike its sister HBO series Game of Thrones, True Blood is based very, very loosely in its source material, with plot straying drastically from what happens in the novels with characters altered as well as some new storylines added that were not originally present. Granted I never read the original books, so I can't say how they hold up in quality, but this gives can give flexibility to write more without being bound by the source material, unfortunately True Blood has an very serious problem with wasting potential all the time, building up characters that will play some important later on or introducing interesting storylines that don't meet an pay off because they are resolved quickly or dropped off without ceremony. I could be here listing off examples, but I am afraid I don't have time and nor the people who haven't seen the show would understand, so I will just give an specific instance. Season 5 has Bill going evil and joining up with Vampire Authority, the seasonal big bads. By the end, when every Authority member is either dead or defected, he is the last one standing and he consumes an vial containing the essence of the vampire goddess Lilith. The last we see of him is him turning into said deity avatar in front of Sookie, this is literally the way the season ended. We are all expecting that sh*t to turn epic in the next season, right? I mean, it would have been just like the ending to the first Blade movie, if La Magra ran amok over the world.

One year later, comes Season 6, and Bill sits on his ass, doing absolutely nothing villain-worthy. The season's big bad position is instead split between an an human politician proposing to exterminate vampires completely and an vampire that was also set up as an great threat on previous seasons, but as it turns out he is just ANOTHER dude who wants to f**k Sookie's magical vagina. And just to put the cherry on the cake, Bill returns to normal and Lilith is gone as if it never happened. Quite an epic fail, don't you think? This can be just an thing that comes down from personal taste and it can understood since many writers had abandoned and picked up the series so many times which can obviously lead to an mess. Interestingly, it was around that period where fans believed the series jumped the shark for them, The show managed to get Christopher Meloni from the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, dude got an high billing and the fanbase were excited to see him. And what do the screenwriters do? Kill him off in the most abrupt way, possibly because they couldn't figure out what to do with him.

Sorry guys, you had Eliot Stabler in your show and you completely wasted him. F**k y'all.

More often than not, Sookie has been criticized for being the most uniniteresting character in the whole series, and in all fairness she is not as bad as Bella Swan, as the series progressed, she often felt more and more detached to whatever else was happening in the plot that was progressed by characters like fan-favorite Eric Northman, the 1000-year old vampire viking that also gets an piece of her at some point later on. Even after she gets her superpowers, she still is liable to get into danger and having one of her boyfriends to bail her out of it.

I won't lie and say that the lore is a freaking mess. Quite the contrary, I quite dig that there are more supernatural things than vampires in this world since I am a fan of the Fantasy Kitchen Sink trope myself, and the set up is rather brilliant. At first glance, these vampires look pretty alright, but they are sadly ruined due to show's inability to keep an consistent mythos. The process of siring an new vampire is most basic stuff that any expert would know: draining an victim almost completely and then replaces their blood with a bit of sire's own to turn them. Yet I lost count of the times where humans were almost killed and had to be revived with vampire blood to survive without becoming vampires in the process. In this setting, vampire blood is also an powerful substance that can heal injuries and grant visions to any person, instead of turning people into an ghoul, if not another vampire like in any other setting. Like, I don't care if they require being buried just so that the transformation is completed, Interview with a Vampire didn't need such formalities.

Just like with the X-Men comics, one of the general themes is that vampirism is used as an metaphor for oppressed minorities, specially LGBT people with related terms such as "coming out of the coffin" and "GOD HATES FANGS" being about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face. The message that "Vampires are People Too" falls flat on its face for a number of reasons.

  • Almost all of them are cold-blooded killers. Before TruBlood was made, at some point they had to murder people to survive. Not even the most noble of them such as Bill, Jessica or Godric were above deliberate killing. And that is not counting the ones that actually take delight in maiming, torturing and raping their victims like Franklin, or Russell Edginton who (I swear I am not making this up) "gets his dick hard with gorging on human blood".
  • They view humans as property. Sookie is kept relatively "safe" because Bill says she belongs to him and she agrees to go along with him. F*ck, I don't even want to think about how others would fare on abusive relationships.
  • Despite claiming they want to be integrated to society, the laws of men mean nothing to them and they still maintain their own parallels system of government with Kings and Queens empowered to enforce their own rules. In addition to this, many of them secretly dine on human blood, instead of TrueBlood since they find the taste revolting.
  • Vampires can mind-control and convert others, either voluntarily or against their will. Obviously, minorities can't do that in real life, but the show is playing up on that fear-mongering unpleasant implication about "catching up the gay".

In short, the many fears that people have against vampires is legitimate, not just the result of ignorant prejudice like in real life. It's not also helped by the human villains having sympathetic backstories (Steve Newlie and Governor Truman both lost loved ones to vampires, while Antonia Logrado was raped and burned on a stake) despite the show trying its hardest to paint them as genocidal assholes for wanting revenge. I dare even say that if deposited in any setting, specifically one like the Blade movies, they would have counted as one of the good guys. You know you are watching an bad story when the bigoted, fundamentalists strawmen with strong Nazi-overtones make more sense than the "heroes".

I... I think this kinda speaks for itself.

I think one thing that others will probably agree is the outstanding over-the-top acting and sometimes OUTRAGEOUSLY CRINGE WORTHY dialogue. In fact, I've been asking the opinion of friends who never seem the show themselves to see what they think of it, and their reactions couldn't have been more expected. The screenwriters seem to cram as many 2edgy4u lines, coupled with loads of profanity wether if its forced or not. I am not exactly an prude when it comes to swearing, (hell this show has pently of sex and violence, why would I EVER complain about swear words?!?!), but the way its delivered and written in this show seems so forced and unnatural, instead of trying to sound mature they come accross as juvenile, which incidentaly its also an problem I have with Garth Ennis' popular writing style. Just to illustrate this, there is an actual villain gang in the show called the F*ck You Crew. I wish I was making that up. Behold the acting that will go down to history...

Though not necessarily an black hole that combined all the issues from the show and were amped up the 11th degree, Season 7 was deemed as an absolute let-down by fans and critics alike, which is ironic since screenwriters were trying to get the series "back from its roots" i.e. focusing on BEEHL and SOOKEH once more, believing it has strayed since their jump the shark moment. The thing is, despite supposing to be the final season, it didn't felt like things were coming to an close up, instead everything was just going through the motions with people doing stuff. You could say the finale had no big bad, and without an overarching villain, there is no conflict.

Season 1: Drew Marshall, an serial killer that targeted women who slept with vampires.

Season 2: the Fellowship of the Sun and Maryann the Maenad.

Season 3: Russell Edginton, the Vampire King of Louisiana.

Season 4: Marnie Stonebrooke, an witch possessed with an evil spirit out to destroy all vampires.

Season 5: The Vampire Authority headed by Salome Agrippa, who believes they should have ruled over the humans.

Season 6: Governor Burrell and Warlow.

And how about Season 7? The closest thing we had to an climatic villain they was some Yakuza guy that was merely tangentially related to the plot only showed up halfway through and is (surprise!!) dispatched within the first 10 minutes of the finale no less. We had an disgruntled dentist who formed an mob to kill off any supernaturals, but he doesn't come nowhere near close to counting as an threat. There was also some psycho-jealous vampire chick that tried taking revenge against her boyfriend for cheating on her, but she was barely any important to the story. Really, the main story arc only took 4 episodes with them drawing out its conclusion as long as possible.

So there you have it, folks. I don't know if you will still hear it how True Blood's series finale will still be an disappointment. I find hard to believe that people will still be talking about the series at all by the end of the year. If anything else, True Blood was following an trend that got started with Twilight and has since wrapped up once that franchise was done. I mean taken on its own merit, this is an very silly series that can probably be enjoyed on a "so bad its good" level, which explains why it has been so popular. It's definitely guilty-pleasure material right here, it has hammy acting, unintentionally hilarity and camp all around for you snarkers to enjoy. And I will say there has been plenty of moments I genuinely enjoyed at some point or another, but still nothing can really justify wha an massive letdown this wrap up was specially to the fans who had suffered through after it had jumped the shark.

I hope you guys enjoyed my completely rambling, biased-fueled blog rant. Ever seen True Blood yourselfes. What did you think of it? Man, I've been writing about vampires lately, haven't I?

Oh and just in case you haven't seen the finale I will sum up what happens for you: BEEHL asks SOOKEH to kill him, she stakes him by the end after so much hesitation and moves on with her life, two supporting characters get wed, Eric comes up with an cure for the Hep V epidemic and Sarah Newlin spends the rest of her days as an blood-slave.

42 Comments

Caio Rants: Videos Games Dread Female Characters?

Welcome my friends and fellow Viners to another segment of...

Today we shall tackle another video game related controversy in larger detail which I covered up in my Assassin's Creed Unity preview blog and I promised I would do an separate one in time.

If you may recall my Assassin's Creed Unity preview blog, I addressed about the lack of female characters in Co-Op in which I criticized Ubisoft's reasoning in technical details. Likewise, another Ubisoft upcoming title Far Cry 4 caught some flak as well for the lack of female characters in multiplayer (although not compared to the alleged "racism" in that game). Both games were to feature playable females at some point but they were scrapped in the last minute in order to not exceed their own costs, which just screams "We don't want to do any work".

I won't dwell too much on Ubisoft 's bullsh&t I already did that in my other blog and I won't further beat that horse like everyone did, besides it certainly was not the first company to being accused of sexism when last year, Rockstar had three male POVs on Grand Theft Auto V and no female one (although you could be an female in Multiplayer at least that). And when you get down to it, it's more of product of laziness than actual misogyny, since the Co-Op characters are pretty much the same one, instead of their own independent entities (which bothers me to no end). At the same time, the side-effect is something that come across as sexism, as they didn't bother to explore different POVs, including that of women. There is an unspoken and disturbing tendency for several publishers to avoid having playable female characters under any cost. 2013's Remember Me was such game, whose developer Jean-Max Morris, lamented the fact he had fight with tooth and nail to have Nilin as the main protagonist with her own life and a relationship with an male character. As he recounts what people had told him:

“We had some [prospective publishers] that said, ‘Well, we don’t want to publish it because that’s not going to succeed. You can’t have a female character in games. It has to be a male character, simple as that.’ …We wanted to be able to tease on Nilin’s private life, and that means for instance, at one point, we wanted a scene where she was kissing a guy,” Morris said. “We had people tell us, ‘You can’t make a dude like the player kiss another dude in the game, that’s going to feel awkward.’ I’m like, ‘If you think like that, there’s no way the medium’s going to mature.’ There’s a level of immersion that you need to be at, but it’s not like your sexual orientation is being questioned by playing a game. I don’t know, that’s extremely weird to me.”

Sadly, despite Morris' best efforts, the game didn't sold very well and was slammed by the Metacritic reviewers. Regardless of the games' success or not, these people' sexist and homophobic remarks shows how much this industry is still backwards. Executives seem to think that nobody really wants to see females outside of supporting roles, because their target audiences "can't see themselves" in character that is not like them. Which is always there has being a prevalence of monochromatic gun-bros, white generic American males with one-dimensional personalities so that their players can easily put themselves as them.

Don't worry, we will make sure things don't get too diverse.
If it was not for Nintendo, then Bayonetta 2 would have not existed.

There is absolutely no denying that there are great and memorable video game heroines such as Lara Croft, Samus Aran, Jill Valentine, Bayonetta, Amateratsu and so forth. Unfortunately, its also an sad truth that games with leading ladies don't make much profit for whatever reason, even ones that already become popular. Look no further than the already mentioned Bayonetta, an much loved beat 'em up/hack 'n slash game that had its own following, and if it had only managed to live up to its financial expectations, theny maybe today, its sequel wouldn't have to become an WiiU exclusive and be available for everybody. Believe it or not, the 2013's Tomb Raider reboot was this close to being an financial bomb, despite being a success among critics and fans, Square Enix reported that the game still failed to met their expectations (though, non e was the story or Lara Croft's fault, but rather the bloated budget into making a new engine and unnecessary features such as multiplayer). Thankfully, the reboot's popularity manage to secure an future with an upcoming sequel in the makings.

What Lara probably thinks of Enix execs spending too much money...
Nope, we don't even want hot babes either. GIRLS HAVE COOTIES!!!

Even so if the most popular female icons are having trouble keeping up, then I weep for the newcomers. You'd think that in this male-dominated industry which the most prevalent belief that sex sells, they would cash in on the third-person seductresses, you know the impossibly curvy and busty heroines, implausibly and impractically dressed, trying to cash in the sex appeal as much as possible (as an old saying goes "If I might stare to an ass all day, it might be an sexy one"). Yet not even those seem to work either. I mean, does anyone remember BloodRayne, Red Ninja: End of Honor, X-Blades/Blades of Time, Bullet Witch being that much of a success? It seems like doesn't matter if they are realistic, objectified and idealized, the AAA industry simply doesn't care about females. PERIOD.

Although Lightning had wasted potential, FF XIII had a F*CKTON more problems than this...

One possible reasoning behind this mentality is that majority of these games in recent years that happened to have playable females, such as Metroid: Other M, Amy and Final Fantasy XIII, were panned by both critics and audience. Somehow, companies perceived this as "players don't like playing with girls" rather than the actual games' questionable quality. Those games didn't suck because there were female protagonists in it, they sucked because they really f*cking sucked. Though the prevalence of males has always being a thing, even with the recent rising of female gamers and despite their claims to appeal to an wider audience, we all know they just want the same audience they always had, only in bigger number. Why you think that focus groups of 12-year old boys are still used to this day? Who the f*ck cares for what guys like Morris had to say about we maturing as an form of art? (The last bit was sarcasm...)

It's an very serious issue and one too complex to come up with an answer how to solve it. This is certainly not an exclusive problem to video games, as superhero movie aren't so different and has a long story of failures and mess ups to their history. I find really amusing that while several companies had being struggling or outright neglected having heroines in their games, over the course of two years Nintendo, which every armchair analyst has being saying to be with one feet in the grave, managed to have playable women in every single one of the games they released. Not to mention the upcoming release of Bayonetta 2 and Hyrule Warriors, the former bringing back the eponymous popular lady from the previous generation and the latter having a huge female cast - Sure, Link is still the hero like he always is but, hell, look at how many girls, ladies and babes the roster has (Zelda, Impa and Midna being among the playable characters just to name a few) they even managed to have an female villain in the story (something unusual for Legend of Zelda games). And they all managed to do that with much less money and resources than Ubisoft. Ooh I guess somebody' ass got schooled.

Instead of a damsel in distress, Zelda leads the fray this time.

Thank you guys for reading it. I hope you enjoyed this blog and I'd like to hear how you feel about this effect in gaming. Did you notice that before or is it the first time you hear about it. I'd like to share your own opinions in the comment section. See ya next time =P

For those interested into the further subject, I recommend watching Jim Sterling's opinion, from the Escapist fame, on it.

58 Comments

20K Post Review - O Beijo do Vampiro

DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMNAAAAAAAAAATIOOOOOON

- Catchphrase of every vampire ever.

It's not every time an Viner reachs 20.000 posts, so just like I did with my 10K Post Review, I'd like to celebrate this special occasion with a more... unusual subject (for a lack of a better term). But before we dig into our subject, let's talk about Brazilian television for a moment.

Outside of exported movies, shows and animated cartoons that are aired in Brazil, a few years back, native television was pretty dull in my humble opinion; between their sh**ty reality shows, soccer matches, sappy soap-operas among other stuff, compared to other program I grew up with that were foreign in nature, those seem pretty stale. Thankfully in recent years Brazilian TV has being getting a lot more varied, but no matter what I may feel, soap-operas in particular (or as they are called telenovelas) play an important part of not just television networks, but of our culture as well, rivaling the likes of Mexican soap operas. Though they offered different settings and themes for each soap-opera, they are noted had cliched plots and characters to the point they were interchangeable between other series. With that said, some of these were absolute smash hitters, in particular the ones from the 9PM time slot, and audience points go through the roof.

Back in 2002, I was 10 years old, Brazil won the World Cup against Germany (something which would haunt us many years later .___.), Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was elected President and the show Big Brother was at its peak. Despite all that, Globo's telenovelas weren't doing so well for whatever reason. Their most successful ones were starting to lose fuel, while many of their didn't live up to network's expectations. Unfortunately one of them was Beijo do Vampiro, which is Portuguese for "Vampire's Kiss" written by Antonia Calmon which aired in the 7PM time slot and ran from August 2002 to May 2003 - an rather unusual type of soap opera that delved into the supernatural, instead of exploring more common themes like everyday lives or hammy, over-the-top family dramas.

We begin our story in the XII Century, where the beautiful Princess Cecilia is meant to marry Count Rogerio, her one true love. Unfortunately, their union is ruined with the coming of Boris Vladescu, the Supreme Vampire that covets the princess for himself and intends to make her his bride. He desires to generate a son and heir - the most powerful vampire in existence that will carrying on his legacy. After having her family and beloved slaughtered by Boris and refusing to accept her terrible fate of carrying his spawn, Cecilia decides she'd prefer be dead than damned and throws herself from an high tower before his eyes.

Turns out this is was an horror tale narrated by our hero Zeca, an vampire-obsessed teenager that is telling to his little brother and sister during modern times. After scaring the crap out of his sibilings he is scolded by his parents Livia and Roberto who assures their kids that vampires are not real. They are unaware that Boris is actually quite real and has being secretly watching over them for two reasons: 1. Livia is actually Cecilia's reincarnation from the past (as well as Roberto being Rogerio's) and after 800 years, he still desires her 2. And Zeca is not really their son... He is actually Boris'. You see in the past, he married an female vampire called Mina de Montmatre, but she was unable to give any birth to the child he wanted. So he had a fling with an human woman gave birth to their son Atilla (Zeca's original name) but she died during childbirth. To protect his son from Mina's ire, Boris discovered Livia and Roberto had a son of their own, which he switched with his, leaving him to be raised as their child and left their true son in an orphanage.

Boris arranges for Roberto to die during an airplane crash and get rid of the competition for Livia's affection. This very act puts the family in deep sh*t since as they are now severely indebted and forced to move on from their house and live with Livia's mother Zoroastra in the fictional town of Maramores with Boris not too far away, trying to ensure Zeca will embrace his role as his heir, with his vampire nature awakening when he comes of age. Other vampires are also gathering to the town, among them Mina and Boris' lieutenant Victor Vitorio, who have their own secret agendas which will shake Maramores down a lot and change forever Zeca and his family's lives.

If anything else, the colorful cast is what made the show. Let's start with our protagonists; Zeca is an hero in a more traditional sense, he is kind, devoted to his family, willing to protect his loved ones and unlike so many vampire protagonists, he wasn't whiny about his undead condition nor considered himself cursed for most of the time. Quite the contrary, he once used his powers to drive off some bullies that were harassing his younger brother, the only thing he loathed was his father but over the course of the series, he learns to respect and eventually forgive him. On the other hand, he can come across as an Marty Stu in the eyes of some viewers - he is more powerful than vampires older than he is (including his dad, who is pretty much king of all vampires) he can pull some inexplicable powers, such as making Mina grow old, suffers almost none of the typical weaknesses such as sunlight and after getting into Heaven's good graces, is allowed to stay within holy ground.

Boris in the other hand is more a more complex character, serving as both the villain protagonist (he gets a huge amount of POV) and the main antagonist (75% of the terrible things happening in the plot were result of his actions, directly or not). He still displayed some redeeming qualities such as genuine love for his son and wants to ensure he will embrace his legacy because the vampire race is dwindling and he wants to prevent that from happening by any cost.

There were plenty of other fun characters like the clumsy vampire hunter Galileo Van Burger, who belongs to a family who tried to kill Boris in the past, but his ancestor died due to an heart attack, while confronting the Supreme Vampire. He is driven to destroy Boris and Mina, specially the latter after she turned his own son into a vampire (albeit he is still living with his dad and seems fine with his condition). Despite his own incompetence, he is pretty likable and manages to do some outstanding feats by sheer accident such as killing off Count facking Dracula.

Oh yeah, I forgot Dracula makes an very brief appearence being held as king of all vampires, which is confusing since I believed Boris was (consistency was never this show's strength). He is staked by accident by Galileo, who is actually targetting another vampire and his death actually kicks off a major development in the plot, since Boris' vampire enemies seek Dracula's magical ring to use it against him. Ironically, Galileo's original target was an pretty much a grunt in the vampire hierarchy.

And how could I not mention about the ladies. Hot, cute and beautiful ladies everywhere!!! Livia (played by Flavia Alessandra) is pretty smoking hot, no wonder she has so many men flocking . Among the vampires, we have Mina, Lara and even Marta Morta, as well as Pandora, Mina's dhampyr daughter. And those are just the ones that come to mind, there is absolutely no shortage of beautiful ladies in this story.

Probably the most divisive thing in the show was an character introduced near the end, Nosferatu the Terrible, Boris' vampire rival that aimed to take his place as Supreme Vampire and take Dracula's ring for himself. While the performance displayed by his actor Ney Latorraca was hilarious, he was only meant to be an guest appearance/comic relief until the writers decided, he would become an regular character and eventually the main villain through the final weeks. (possibly because Boris was going to soft to be anymore villainous). His new role seemed a bit shoehorned in, since he has no back story, no genuine motivation and he only appears to hijack Boris's position, not helped that he felt more like an buffoon with an overblown sense of himself that never gets to show how much of an legit threat he is.

Oh yeah, we also learn what happened to Livia's true son Renato, is introduced much later as an street urchin and is reunited with his family. Yeah, whatever...

SURPRISE MADAFACKA!

These vampires are classical as you can possibly get: they have sharp fangs, red/green/golden eyes (t varies from vampire to vampire), can turn into bats, hypnotize people, are vulnerable to crosses, garlic, stakes, holy artifacts, sleep in coffins and etc. As a plus, they were also able to perform magic powers such as teleportation, telekinisis, pyrokinisis and among others. But make no mistake, these are family-friendly vampires so don't expect too much blood from their feedings or anything like that. In fact, they don't need blood to survive, they can drink if they feel like it and can eat normal food. These vampires are also capable of having children themselves (though its noted that their birth rates are extremely low and they will soon die out). Curiously, if you manage to kill an vampire sire, all of the vampires they turned (as well as their subsequent progeny) will go back to normal... This raises so many questions about incosistency, but I am afraid won't go too deep into them out to not derail my own review.

Vampires were not the only supernatural creatures to be featured; Zoroastra was an witch, Princess Cecilia appears as some sort of ghost advisor to Livia and saving her at some points, Angels and God's presence feature heavily and Archangel Ezequiel serves more or less the same role as Castiel in Supernatural. He is the overall leader of the good guys and looking after the heroes' safety, helping them out in their moment of need and unlike most angels in fiction portrayed as self-righteous douches, he is actually nice and protective of Zeca despite his nature as an vampire, going as far as to allow him to pass through holy places. Puzzlingly, despite posed as Boris' opposite and being, you know a f*cking angel, Ezequiel gets his ass kicked by Boris whenever he tries to confront him in combat.

You should rethink your life when a 13-year old does a better job than you
Well that is some Oscar-winning acting

As far as acting goes... What did you expect about an soap-opera, specially one about vampires? Though to its credit, there were some really great actors like Tarcisio Meira (who is pretty much legendary) and Claudia Raia as Boris and Mina de Montmartre and whenever the situation needed, they could play characters seriously. Yet, they know what kind of show this is and they will ham it up to the hundreth degree, shouting "MALDIÇÃO" (DAMNATION in English) and chewing the scenery as much as they drink blood. Special effects are, well, they look really sh*t just like PS1 graphics, but I am willing to cut it some slack since for an Brazilian telenovela, the production value looked great. The soundtrack was pretty great with some expertly selected songs such as the opening theme and Vater User from E Nomine.

Though the series turned out to be pretty popular among the younger crowd, it didn't do so well with adult audiences and was absolutely blasted by professional critics. Still, it won some awards, made some actors themselves stars and it has an cult following to this day. I may had loved the hell out of it as a kid and nowadays I do find it so silly and campy to be enjoyed on a serious level... On the other hand, I do appreciate they were trying to do things differently, instead of the same things over and over, and lament that it didn't do quite well enough for them to further innovate and do more supernatural-based stuff which would definitely pleased me. I would probably recommend, it just to see what its like, but I afraid this telenovela was never released outside of Brazil and to this day, it was never reprised as far as I am concerned. There are some episodes uploaded to YT as well as many clips, but unless if speak Portuguese, you probably won't be more invested than just seeing a few videos.

I'd like to thank all of you reading it. I appreciate all types of feedback and hope to have incited your attention about the show. It has being a great time being part of this site and meeting so many amazing people. Its due to you I keep writing these reviews in hopes to entertain your day a bit more.

An toast to your awesomeness from your vampire prince ;)

14 Comments

Samimista/DragonbornCT Review: Maleficent

Hey guys. How ya doing? Some months ago we reviewed Frozen together and now we team up again to review another Disney movie that is rocking in the box office at the moment, Maleficent.

Plot

Samimista

Honestly, I was very skeptical to see another live action Disney movie since I was disappointed in Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland. Which is very ironic since I love Burton films and would watch the animated Alice In Wonderland many times as a kid. Maleficent however, was magnificent.

The movie is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty where we see Maleficent fall in love with Aurora's father, Stefan, at a very young age. On Maleficent's sixteenth Birthday, Stefan gives her a true love's kiss. Unfortunately, the love was not true since Stefan is the cause of Maleficent's downfall. We see her on a journey to recover from an emotional betrayal by the only person she's ever loved.

I actually found the kiss between Stefan and Maleficent quite interesting since it does explain why Maleficent would curse Aurora to fall into a sleep-like death by pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel on her sixteenth Birthday. It could be seen as a way for revenge with how Stefan broke Maleficent's heart and now Maleficent is slowly taking away what's precious to him -- his very own daughter.

Dragonborn_CT

Despite being one of the most iconic Disney villains ever, Maleficent was never particularly one of my favorites because there was very little to her motivation for the things she did "Yeah lets just curse this little baby for absolutely zero reason just because I am a bitch like that", sure she does transform into a dragon and it was awesome, but she was about as flat as a paper sheet. She doesn't want power or control or wealth, she is just evil for evil sake. True to that, I was really doubtful how they were going to make an interesting perspective flip in Maleficent giving her point of view of the story. However, the writers realized that since she was an difficult thing to do since Maleficent was such one-dimensional character that they made things more differently.

Maleficent not so much tells an different POV than they reinvents Sleeping Beauty as a story, outright telling that everything we knew was an lie and this movie is the true events. Maleficent was actually the heroine of a much bigger story and all the heroic characters from the fairy tale were either evil, ineffectual or incompetent. To put it perspective, its actually Aurora's father the big bad of the movie, responsible for Maleficent's suffering and the conflict within the plot. What specifically makes the movie stands out is the dark and mature "fall from grace" - her betrayal and mutilation by the man she trusted and opened her heart to can be easily seen as a rape metaphor which many other viewers had caught on that, its made all more shocking that this is a Disney movie which the last time we'seen such dark subject was the Hunchback of Notredame.

Maleficent is very much like Frozen in many aspects, including its primary theme of true love, the difference is that the supernatural female lead is the protagonist instead of the princess and carries a much more dark and mature implications. We could see that as symbol of female empowerment, which is a great thing since it means Disney is being progressive in dealing its heroines. But in the other hand, it felt like Frozen all over again which something you need to watch out for if you know what I am saying.

Characters

Samimista

Honestly, I was always so mortified of Maleficent as a kid. Especially with her cruel demeanor and cackling. I did however, love Angelina Jolie's portrayal of Maleficent. Especially with the voice and high cheekbones.

I didn't like Stefan one bit since even in his very first scene, he was portrayed as a boy with the wrong intentions. In my opinion, Stefan was more sinister than Hans from Frozen since he betrayed Maleficent in exchange for royalty.

Elle Fanning was perfect casting as Aurora in my opinion. I've only seen movies from Dakota Fanning beforehand but, Elle is a natural beauty with the childlike innocence. If I'm being honest, I never liked Snow White and Cinderella but always loved Aurora with how lovely she is. It was really adorable seeing Aurora grow up in this movie.

Besides Stefan, I really disliked how Knotgrass, Thistlewite and Fittle were portrayed. Without spoiling anything, I will say that I felt the three fairy godmothers were very incompetent with watching Aurora. She wanders deep in the forest where she could easily get hurt yet, the fairy godmothers are too busy arguing with each other to even notice where Aurora went.

I was also very surprised to see Maleficent's raven Diaval who can even transform into a human. He's portrayed by Sam Riley who does a fine job at making Diaval very charming. He even develops a friendship with Aurora over the years.

Dragonborn_CT

Angeline Jolie plays Maleficent flawlessly, wether if she is an sympathetic or creepy . I will say I enjoyed her slowly regaining her humanity, but my favorite moments were when she was all sinister and stuff like that, like the signature scene which she curses baby Aurora "What an awkward situation indeed". I imagine the whole point of her arc was to atone for her actions, but I would have liked if she went more forward with her thirst for revenge as well, but I would have imagined that would have being something completely at odds with the other half of the story. Aurora is alright, she is kinda like every princess archetype rolled into one (she is beautiful, virtuous, innocent)and seemed too perfect as times, but I didn't mind that since its Maleficent is the protagonist and a much more compelling character.

Sharlto Copley s an amazing actor for being able to play such despicable character as King Stefan, just like in last years movie Elysium which he played the psychotic operative Kruger, he plays an specific type of villain that changes notes throughout the picture. He goes from treacherous sleazebag to Aerys Targaryen, slowly going insane over the story's course to the point his obsession of Maleficent overrides the wellbeing of his wife and daughter. He is a f*ckton times worse than Hans from Frozen.

Unfortunately what drags the movie down are all the third-part characters, such as the three fairygodmothers and the prince in particular. The formers are so hilariously incompetent in raising Aurora that its pretty much Maleficent's job of keeping the kid safe and sound (so that she can die later when she is 16) and their only purpose is probably comic relief, while the latter's only reason for exist in this movie was to show that romantic love =/= true love. The problem is that we simply can't get rid of them, cause they are all necessary to the plot one way or another. Thankfully they aren't in the movie that much and at least its balanced by the presence of Diaval, Maleficent's pet raven who can turn into an human boy.

Visual Effects

Samimista

Honestly, I even forgot visual effects were even used for the film since everything looks so realistic nowadays. I found it very breathtaking when we see Aurora playing with the mythical creatures at night. It was very beautiful with the lighting.

Dragonborn_CT

The visual effects are of the best I've seen in a fantasy movie a long while. The art direction in particular tingles one of my favorites with the fey-like creatures and monsters having this Pan's Labyrinth's appeal to them. The battle sequences and Maleficent's power displays were amazing to watch, even if somewhat brief (but hey, we can't be like LotR all the time, can we?)

Soundtrack

Samimista

Lana Del Ray's Once Upon A Dream was the highlight of the movie in my opinion. It's like she practically reinvented the song with her chilling voice. Supposedly, it was even Angelina Jolie who handpicked Lana for Maleficent's soundtrack.

Dragonborn_CT

All of the soundtrack was pretty unremarkable for me. Even Lana Del Ray's cover of Once Upon a Dream feels cheesy and out of place, especially since the rest of the film isn't a musical. Not helping matters is how divorced the song sounds from its original context

Final Rating

Samimista

9/10 - Maleficent is a very entertaining movie however, my only complaint is how the ending is very similar to Frozen when it comes to true love. It's not necessarily a bad thing but, I'm hoping Disney won't overuse the 'twist' in future movies.

Dragonborn_CT

8/10 - It was a very entertaining movie, with an awesome protagonist, a great story,. Probably not the best movie of the year or one you will ever seen, but it does well enough in what sets to do. Those expecting a more villanous Maleficent will be disappointed, but if you wanted a Frozen albeit more darker, there you have it.

48 Comments

Caio Reviews: Bram Stoker's Dracula

Is this my reward for defending God's church! I RENOUNCE GOD! I shall rise from my own death and avenge her with all powers of darkness! The blood is life... And it shall be mine"

Dracula's narmtastic transformation into a vampire.

After reviewing some bad and some really, really bad vampire movies I figure it would have being a treat to review a good movie for once and couldn't be more fitting than one of the best vampire movies have to offer. You see, Bram Stoker's Dracula is an cult classic, unlike so many adaptations, boasts that it's the most loyal one to the source material. Its true many of Dracula movies deviate considerably from the novel like Orson Welles once said "[It] would make an marvelous movie. In fact nobody made has ever made it... All the movies are based on the play" And Francis Coppolla gets close enough than most. However, its one of those movies I would really, really want to love so badly, but I can't get over the fact that it hasn't aged very well today and doesn't hold up in several aspects. Don't get me wrong, I still like this movie I will try to explain as best as I can why this is a good movie, but not nearly as great as I thought it would have being.

After the fall of Costantinople, Vlad III Dracula successfully defends Eastern Europe of the rising Turkish forces. However a false report of his death ends up leading his beloved Elisabetha to commit suicide. Enraged to hear his wife is damned for taking her own life even after he thought for God's faith, Vlad renounces him forever and vows to rise from his own death and have his vengeance. 500 years later, British state agent Jonathan Harker is summoned to Transylvania before wedding his fiancé Mina, to finish an assignment his predecessor couldn't (who is now). His client is Count Dracula, now an wizened old man that is purchasing several properties in England for some mysterious reason known only to himself.

The Count arranges for Jonathan to remain in his castle as an guest (i.e. his prisoner) while he sails West to feasting on the ship crew and unleashing his evil upon setting foot on dry land. While draining Mina's best friend Lucy (played by Sally Frost), he discovers that Mina is also played by Winona Ryder so therefore, she must be Elisabetha's reincarnation. He pursues an forbidden romance with her, despite the fact she is already engaged and waiting for her soon-to-be husband to return (unaware that its Dracula holding Jonny captive). When Lucy's condition worsen, Professor Van Helsing (played by Anthony Hopkins) is summoned to save her, and soon becomes clear they are dealing with something unnatural and they must prepare themselves for the worst.

I will say up front that Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins do amazing jobs as Count Dracula and Van Helsing respectively, even when they are supposedly overreacting but considering what their characters are supposed to be, its probably fitting. Winona does an alright job as the female lead (despite all things considered that I am about to blast on her character in a few lines below), though Keane Reeves is the most horribly miscast part in the movie, attempting an British accent while he still can't let go of the from the Billy and Ted mode.

The costumes and set designs looked amazing for the most part, my particular favorite was Dracula's armor that he wears in the prologue. Though some bits looked so silly namely Dracula's old man form (with the hair braided in form of butt cheeks) and his giant bat form (that rubber costume in particular is so obvious, I can't even imagine that being impressive when it was first released). The orchestral score was also great, specially the Prologue track which Dracula becomes an vampire, the "Brides" theme among others.

I appreciate some elements from the books were preserved here. This is one of the few movies that depict Dracula as an old man in the beginning of the story and grows young as he drinks more and more blood and just like in the book, he is capable of walking under the sunlight (albeit being a lot more weaker than he would have being at night). Though they aren't given much to do, Quincey, Jack and Arthur are present all at once instead of being combined into one character or removed completely. The one big glaring change I noticed before I move to the big one is Lucy Westenra's character. Whereas in the books she was depicted as this pure, caring, ingenue girl, she is reinmagined as an the movie's Ms. Fanservice, appearing to provide some gratuitous nudity and baring her breast during the vampire attacks. It was not necessarily a bad change, an unnecessary one I suppose, but since they were aiming for an more mature and HBO-like adaptation I guess. I can get over all that, not so much the following aspect.

Not that I will ever complain about an hot chick in a movie...

You see the biggest problem I have with the movie is the romance aspect. Never mind it was never present in the books to begin with, but its a derailing narrative for all characters and the movies and as much as I want to ignore it, its remarkable similar to (brace yourselves) Twilight. And before you raise your torches and pitchforkes to storm my castle, stop me if you've heard this one before: an brunette woman who is bored with her life is infatuated with this dark, mysterious and dangerous dude who turns out to be a vampire. She just met this guy and is too eager to abandon her normal life to be with him, she pleads that he turns her into a vampire, but he initially refuses because he doesn't want her to be damned as he is... You get my point. This movie has more in common with Twilight than most people would imagine, I know it sounds like heresy, but if you watch the movie you will release the similarities. And the worst part? Its not anymore believable than Edward and Bella.

Sorry, Drac. Having the same face doesn't mean she will be the same person you loved.

The romance is the one aspect that drives the entire movie, but ends up overshadowing everything that would have made for a more interesting one. Dracula is completely defanged of all threat as an villain, since he is reduced to an tragic and pathetic creature instead of the outright incarnation of evil he is supposed to be. And the sad thing, he is not as nearly as sympathetic as the movie try to paint him as. He renounced God because his beloved committed suicide and decided to become damned alongside her, and therefore we are supposed to feel bad for him. However, in the same movie, he has his vampire brides feast on a baby while forcing Jonny to watch in horror, kills every poor bastard aboard the Demeter who were unfortunate enough to become his meal and outright rapes/seduces his beloved' best friend, and when Mina marries Jonny, he decides to turn Lucy into his bride instead. And that is just the thing he does onscreen, who knows how many atrocities he may have committed, how many people he had killed as vampire in the meantime between the prologue and the movie's events.

I, who served the Cross. I, who commanded nations, hundreds of years before you were born.

All of this would have being fine if he was intentionally played up as a complete monster he is supposed to be. He does precisely all that in the books (although the sexual assaults are more metaphorical in nature) and he is never portrayed as anything else than a remorseless, irredeemable, monstrous f*ck. Now I am not saying there should never, ever have sympathetic depictions of Dracula. Gabriel Belmont in Lords of Shadow is probably one of my favorite video game characters of all time (haters gonna hate) he was dark and evil sure, but he was likable and his tragic backstory also similar to this Dracula (having lost an loved one which lead to their fall into darkness).

Yesh... I used Gabriel Belmont as comparision to this movie's Dracula.
Bella Swan - Victorian Edition.

Although Mina Harker is butchered having originally being an strong female character (which was unusual to see in books around the time it was written), that despite not being physically capable, possessed immense spiritual and emotional strength (For f*ck sake, she holds much better than her husband does when she is bitten by the Count to the point she is the one having to comfort HIM)in this movie, Mina accidentally serves as deconstruction for Bella Swan in retrospective. Think about it: she is so slavishly obsessed with this handsome vampire dude to the point she becomes pretty f*cked up the head. When the heroes try to protect her at any cost, she sabotages their attempts, all for the sake of being with her beloved dark prince, an monster who feasts on the blood of the living and she knows all the horrible things he had done. Yeah, you'd have to be insane to be in love with such man. This is just me reading too much into things, I sincerely doubt that was ever the creator's intention, since we are supposed to be believe their true love is genuine.

True to that, the heroes are treated as villainous trying to interfere in their love, even being referred to as "God's madmen". The vampire hunters hardly can be considered "evil" since three of them want to avenge the woman they loved that was murdered by the vampire and another who wants to prevent the same thing from happening to his wife. And because of that the ending may come off as a little hard to swallow (spoiler alert) Dracula dies in Mina's arms, the curse is lifted from her and both his soul and Elisabetha's ascend to Heaven... Hmmm why?!? I mean, why is he going to Heaven after all the sh*t he pulled? How about Lucy? How about his Brides? Are they in Hell for becoming vampires? That is an very insipid happy ending you know... I can't believe I am not watching Dracula: Dead and Loving It.

*Sigh* I don't know if I can complain that much... The only thing the movie exists is because of the script that was pitched to Francis Ford Coppolla by Winona Ryder to begin with and he was compelled to make a experience resembling an "erotic dream" (not making this up). I wonder if we had removed that crutch from the project, would have the entire thing crumbled.

Lets hope this one will be at least good

Final Rating

7/10 - Despite me sh**ting all over the one important aspect of the movie, I do admit I enjoyed it back then and I still do, but not as much as I would want to. I would recommend it to any vampires' fan although you need to be warned about the contents before going in, especially if you want to see something compared as an superior work to Twilight. I'd be hard pressed to call this the best Dracula movie period, with all the sh*t I complained about it, but I guess its one of the best ones it had to offer.

Thank you guys for reading my review. I hope you enjoyed it. What did you think about the movie? Share your thoughts and opinions in comment section below.

See ya next time =P

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Caio Reviews: BloodRayne the Movie

She's one Hell of a heroine...literally!

One of the movie's taglines.

You may recall Dracula 3000, an thoroughly miserable experience that that was my last movie review's subject. It had an obviously silly B-movie premise (Dracula IN SPACE), except it was such unbearably slog of a movie I barely could make any fun of it, the only entertainment I got was imagining a much better movie I could have being watching instead. Perhaps a movie that is so bad its good, instead of a movie so bad it makes me want to sleep. So what about BloodRayne, another vampire movie? Well I will say its kinda like I wanted when seeing Dracula 3000. It's not an good movie by any stretch, but far more enjoyable than that shipwreck in comparison. Though personally, I have an personal stake (hehe) against this movie from the beginning.

Say what you will, the cover is more accurate than last time.

Off to an demoralizing start, BloodRayne is also a video game series developed by Terminal Reality and published by Majesco. You heard it right folks, this movie is an video game adaptation. What could possibly go wrong? In all fairness, both games are really entertaining, if criminally underrated. They are about an Dhampyr (an half-human, half-vampire) called Rayne that works for an secret organization called Brimstone Society, that is devoted into riding the world of all evil vampires. The first game is set during the 30s between WW1 and WW2, where Rayne fight against Nazis and stop them from acquiring some unholy artifacts that will grant them victory, while the second game set decades afterwards during modern times, she confronts an vampire cult that worships her father, the vampire lord Kagan, who had raped her mother and killed her family. If you want to play an hack an' slash game as an vampire, don't worry this game got you covered.

If you can check the games out if you want to enjoy something genuinely good.
He is Death. Destroyer of Worlds.

However, no background is worth without speaking about the mastermind behind it. None other than the much dreaded Uwe Boll. Every gamer or movie buff has at least heard of him at some point or another, but here is what you need to know. Uwe is an German director infamous for some truly bad video game adaptations, such as Alone in the Dark, Postal and Far Cry (Yeah I am not kidding), known for his absolutely batsh*t attitude towards criticism, having challenged movie critics to boxing matches and the like. Petitions were made to forbid him from making movies ever again and despite all of them bombing so hard, he still manages to get finance them thanks to tax loopholes. It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say he is the spiritual successor of Ed Wood (no matter how much this sentence sounds dreadful in my mouth).

Our movie is very loosely (emphasis on LOOSELY) based on the games' plot, taking a few elements and cues from both, but not adapting either of them. Its set during the Middle Ages (instead of WW2 or modern times), in Romenian (initially an unidentified Eastern European country) where vampires roam at night being opposed only by the Brimstone Society and people speak with an unexplicable British accent. The most powerful of them, Kagan had an hybrid child called Rayne with an human woman. After her mother is killed, the orphaned Rayne spends much of her life in a freakshow circus, where she is cut on regular basis and fed with blood to heal in front of the audience. One night, when her handlers decide to have the "brightest" idea to rape her, she awakens her vampire side and goes in a berserker rage, feasting on all of the carnies that came across her way. Its mind-boggling that in this setting, vampires are an serious and easily recognizable threat, these idiots keep an woman that feasts on blood as the lead attraction in their show without realizing her true nature.

A trio of Brimstone vampire hunters, made up of Vladimir (played by the visibly embarrassed Michael Madsen) Katarin (played by Michelle Rodriguez) and Sebastian (Matthew Davis, who would later play another vampire hunter - Alaric Saltzman - in Vampire Diaries) comes across the circus and deduce this is the work of a Dhampyr, and decide to recruit her to their cause and help defeat Kagan. Unbestknown to them, Kagan had killed her mother because he somehow sensed their daughter would ruin his plans in the future...? Specially Rayne absorbs an mystical artifact that Kagan is looking after in his bide to acquire supreme power, that is her perfect chance of revenge for her mother.

Fun fact: This movie was literally written in one draft. Guinevere Turner, the original screenwriter, was unavailable on location to rewrite the film and Boll used the first draft of the script as basis (and it shows).

The games were never this quite hard to follow.

You wouldn't think that a B-movie such as this would have this hard to follow but somehow they managed it. The plot surrounds the search of the unholy relics of an ancient vampire that removes any weakness they have (the eye makes them immune to water, the rib to the cross and the heart to sunligh). Kagan searches for it and the heroes try to stop him. Sounds simple huh? Turns out there is another vampire called Elrich, that supposedly is in league with Kagan and was a Brimstone member before being turned and is also Katarin's father. Despite working with both sides against the middle, he presicely does nothing, spending all his time in his room with his last scene being with Kagan's head enforcer threatening him - without us knowing if he survived it or not. His scenes are not only padding, they are too distracting when you are trying to understand his role in the story. He does get his daughter to betray Brimstone, but its not clear what side is she pilling to, since her father seems to be on his own. I know that is a strange thing to harp on, but I couldn't stop thinking about what the hell Billy Zane is supposed to do here.

Being too convoluted for its own good doesn't stop the movie from being too clichéd and unoriginal with its absolutely trite dialogue, not helped by actors saying them without an ounce of irony. Obligatory clichés such "the chosen one" (with an old soothsayer telling Rayne is destined to stop Kagan), "the guards must be crazy" (Madsen and Alaric are captured by Kagan's forces and the way the manage to escape is so stupid even they comment on it) and "All your bases are belong to use" (when Brimstone HQ is absolutely raided by Kagan's forces when Katarin turns on her comrades). Of course, it wouldn't have being a Uwe Boll movie without the juvenile approach to sex and nudity. Halfway through the movie Rayne and Sebastian have sex without no build up beforehand. They were not even established as being in a romantic relationship before (in fact Sebastian propose to kill Rayne at several points) and after that they kinda become lovers, but not really. Then there are Meat Loaf's harem who is portrayed by Hungarian real prostitutes that Uwe Boll hired because they were cheaper than real actresses. As low budgeted you can possibly get...

These pussy swords can barely be compared to bread knives

The action scenes are laughable. Swords used in dueling looked unspeakably lame upon closer inspection, having rounded points instead of sharp ends (my own prop swords look more legit than any swords in this movie), and that is just other's characters weapons. Rayne's classical arm blades are retconned as being some artistic tools owned by her circus friend, that somehow Rayne manages to use it in combat despite being not really weapons until its broken during her training on Brimstone, instead of a real fight because f*cking logic in the arse. It wouldn't take a genius to guess they didn't really hire an real fight choreographer for the swordplays. The most "outstanding" example of this is the final confront between Rayne and her father where she uses some really impractical movements (her weapon is a really unrealistic on its own right) that tries too hard to appear cool and awesome, but no character would really fight like the way she does.

Still an better villain than in Regular Man 3

Do I even have talk about the acting? Michael Madsen and Ben Kingsley are the only thing worth bringing up since they are truly great actors among the trainwreck. Notably, Madsen looks like he is so not having a good time, and he already gone on record that he was drunk while shooting the movie and found the experience abominable). Ben, on the other hand, couldn't give less of shit. The dude played Mahatma Gandhi for f*cks sake, so his dignity is still intact even after being in this absolute bag of sh*t. The only actor who (BY FAR) is genuinely enjoying himself is Meat Loaf who is paid to appear in only one scene, being surrounded by the already mentioned topless ladies while overreacting to the extreme. Hmm, I guess that was a fair deal... Who wouldn't enjoy themselves anyway?

Astonishingly, BloodRayne is just the first installment in a movie trilogy also directed by Uwe Boll. The second movie is set in the Old West with an vampire Billy the Kid and the third movie takes place during World War II, much like the first game had. At the time of writing I haven't seen either movie yet, but who knows what the future may hold for us, huh?

Final Rating

4/10 - In one hand, it's a complete spit in the face of BloodRayne fans and a carnival of ineptitude in every regard (acting, script, effects)... On the other hand, that can turn out to be an enjoyable sit if you know what kind of movie you are getting. It's the perfect storm of badness, pilling up terrible ideas, big name actors tarnishing their reputation and the such. The acting is at least hammy enough to keep you from being bored. If you want a genuinely good experience with BloodRayne, go check out the games instead (in fact, I might review them in the future as well).

I ain't even mad...

Thank you guys for reading it. I hope you enjoyed it? What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comment section. Some more vampire reviews are coming. See ya next time =P

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Caio Reviews: Game of Thrones "The Children"

Welcome my friends to the season finale in Game of Thrones' fourth season. Today we look at the tenth and final episode entitled "The Children" in which circumstances change after an unexpected arrival from north of the Wall. Danymust face harsh realities. Bran learns more about his destiny. Tyrion sees the truth about his situation.

At the Wall

Picking up directly where the last episode ended, Jon marches through the snow in the bright morning sunlight into the Haunted Forest where Mance Rayder and his wildlings have set up camp. The King Beyond the Wall steps out of his tent to meet him. He notes that Jon Snow is wearing black all again, but Snow tells him he's here to treat with him. Jon and Mance try to discuss their peace terms, but we all know its bullsh**t on Jon's part since he is stalling long enough just to find an excuse to kill him. Mance actually picks up on it and asks if Ned Stark's son is willing to breach sacred hospitality.

OURS IS THE FURY

Before both of them find out the truth, they hear horns and bugles. We see a wide shot of an army of mounted banners carrying banners march into the camps. They attack on two sides and rout all the Free Folk in their wake, it's a complete massacre with Mance's tent at the centre. Jon Snow and Mance are all lost as the soldiers criss cross through the forest. Mance then tells everyone to cease saying there has been enough blood spilt of their kind. The mounted knights stop and through the snow we see two familiar shapes marching forth. It's Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth, fresh from Braavos. A quick introduction happens where Davos asks Mance to kneel before the "one true king of the seven kingdoms" but Mance, duly elected King Beyond the Wall will not kneel. Stannis takes this rebuke in his stride and asks Mance to be chained. Jon Snow introduces himself to Stannis, telling him he's Ned Stark's son much to Stannis' surprise. Stannis tells Jon that Ned was a honorable man. He wouldn't spare Mance would he. Jon vouches for Mance telling him that he's been honorable and right to him and his father would have accepted that. He also tells Stannis to burn all the dead.

Next shot we cut to Castle Black where Master Aemon is giving an eulogy to all fallen Rangers that perished during the battle, among them Grenn and Pyp as the visible deceased :'( Then Jon goes to visit Tormund and let him know that their forces are in disarray, Mance was captured and with nobody capable left to lead the Wildlings they will scatter. Despite their massive forces, in the end, they still lost. Can I just say: F*CK YEAH!!! STANNIS DID SOMETHING IMPORTANT AFTER TWO SEASONS OF SULKING IN A CORNER!!!!!! I WAS CRYING OUT "STANNIS, STANNIS, STANNIS" THE SECOND I RECOGNIZED THE FLAMING STAG IN THE KNIGHT'S BANNERS!

Goddamn, I've being waiting that for a long time. This was in fact the one moment I expected to happen last week episode and even complained for ending so abruptly. Looking back now, I would prefer if the scene where he captures Mance Ryder to have being the last shot in the "The Watchers on the Wall" episode. What a rip off guys!!! Didn't help that episode ended ten minutes earlier than the normal ones do :\ And oh there is still Ygritte's funeral that had to be held separately than others. Of course it needed to. I seriously could give less of a f*ck about her death, even with the soundtrack trying its hardest to pull my heartstrings. If anything I am only happy that Samsara-like entity of bitchery and annoyance won't come back from the dead as an zombie since her corpse was burned for real :v

At Meereen

Daenerys faces yet another challenge in her overthrow of the city's existing culture; an elderly former slave wants to return to his previous life of servitude. Apparently the communal shelters in Meereen, for those without homes, are having their older refugees attacked by the younger folk. If nothing else, the slave says he wants to return to having a purpose rather than simply being free, mentioning there are many others wanting the same thing. Dany eventually relents, allowing the slave to return to service for no longer than a year. Barristan warns the Great Masters will take advantage of Dany's loophole, preaching caution.

Things then take a sharp downturn; a farmer carries a bundle into the throne room, weeping and proclaiming something about a black-winged creature that came from the sky. The bundle is the charred bones of his three-year-old daughter. Dany freaks out somewhat, before luring her two remaining dragons, Rhaegal and Viserion, into the catacombs beneath Meereen. She chains both at the neck and starts to seal them inside, but not before they realise what's happening and cry out for their mother. In tears, Dany closes their cell behind her.

Mother of Dragons... Mother of Monsters

Well, sh******t... I think this is the part that the consequences' of Daenerys quasi-messianic crusade come to full circle and finally bite her in the ass. Turns out that freedom for a lot of former slaves is a lot worse than being slaved, since they don't have skills to survive on their own, this is an dog-eat-dog world after all not an ideal heroic fantasy... And most important of all letting your dragons roam freely in the surrounding countryside, without any restraint? Even after seeing how violent they've become? Don't look so damn surprised when they start getting a taste for human flesh. It was extremely sad that she had to lock up Rhaegal and Viserion since they are the nicest of the dragons (it was Drogon's fault after all) and saddest of all? That is their most significant appearence in the series for as long as I can remember.

"A dragon is no slave", heh? This sentence just turned hollow...

Ultimately I suppose it was a good thing to happen in her storyline. Her arc in previous season was completely at odds to what was happening with other stories over Westeros (last season's finale started with the northern army completely crushed and ended with her being adored as the freedmen's "mother" - a scene that left a really bitter taste in the mouths of some viewers), she needed to have some flaws and obstacles being thrown her way. I'd imagine that things are about to get a lot worse for her too...

Beyond the Wall

Bran and his friends have finally reached the Weirwood Bran saw in his vision back in "The Lion and the Rose". As they make their way towards it, a bunch of animated skeletons burst forth from the ground and start attacking them. During the fight Jojen is stabbed repeatedly by one, whilst a little girl appears at a cave near the base of the Weirwood. The girl implores they all get inside before the skeletons kill them. After being urged by Jojen to go without him, Meera ends his suffering and follows Bran and Hodor inside. As they leave, Jojen's body and a heap of the skeletons are blown up by fireballs thrown by the little girl, who identifies herself as an children of the Forest.

I don't know if the CotF were also grenade throwing pixie-like girls in the books, so...

Inside the cave, the skeletons are halted by something that causes any who get inside to fall apart. Team Bran move inward, reaching part of the cave covered in old vines. In its centre is a wizened old man seated inside what looks like a tree trunk - the Three-Eyed Crow in human form. He welcomes Bran, and says Jojen knew of his fate even before he left with them. Bran asks if the Three-Eyed Crow can help him walk. "You'll never walk again," the Raven tells him, "but you will fly." And like that Bran's story ends and there are so many things unanswered, which leads to the same conclusion I had about his storyline: I don't even know the significance of Bran's quest, and I doubt he does too at this point. Its such mystery surrounding the three-eyed crow and to what the Reeds were going on about that I am completely lost. I am sure it will be revealed eventually and it leaves a lot of room to especulation, but for now, I am so confused to what is driving him to go on (he even had to sacrifice his one chance to be reunited with his brother Jon) and how he thinks it will pay off for in the end. Is he going ride dragons? Great, if get them out of Meereen's chamber first? Oh yeah, I need to point out that while the fight scene with the Wights was really intense, at the same time it felt really cheesy. Its not always you get to see something out of heroic fantasy into a series that places priority more on political intrigues and sh*t.

Oh, also... I didn't wanted to be the one to bring this up, but did Meera just commit kinslaying by putting her brother out of his misery? The one taboo that anyone who commits it is believe to be forever cursed in the eyes of gods and men? I might be wrong but, well shiiiiiiiiii...

One last thing... F*ck you D&D for leaving this guy out of the series...

At King's Landing

We cut to a massive and ugly looking wound on Gregor Clegane's abdomen, turns good Prince Oberyn got the last laugh having coated his spear in poison which is prolonging the Mountain's suffering. After dismissing Maester Pycelle, Cersei admits she enjoys Qyburn company better, since he is performing an experiment that will keep Clegane alive in some way, but will leave him changed.

Man, I was disappointed I didn't got to see the Mountain screaming in agony :v I bet they had it filmed, but it didn't look very good so they decided to just left the actor lying on a bed doing nothing. Its a shame since Clegane is one of those characters that deserved to die screaming. Oh well, I am content with the irony that, he is now in the hands of one of the men who survived the Harrenhal massacre that Mountain ordered back in Season 3. I guess Gregor will be in a whole new world of a pain on Qyburn's hands.

In the chambers of the Hand of the King, Cersei and Tywin discusses her upcoming marriage to Loras Tyrell which she tells him point blank is not going to happen. Tywin tells her that she'll do it because he always gets his way. He even flatters her telling her that the future of the Lannister legacy now depends entirely on her and she's very important. When that doesn't fly, he goes for an anecdote about Cersei being stubborn in her childhood and Tywin setting her straight. Cersei cuts him off and confirms to him what he refuses to believe: she and Jaime are indeed in a relationship. Having dropped this bombshell on him, Cersei strides off while Tywin stays behind, seemingly at a loss. Cersei then interrupts Jaime flipping through the Book of Brothers, telling him all she wants is him and that she's admitted their incest to Tywin. While at first a little hesitant, Jaime eventually relents to her advances as they start to have sex on what must surely be a very uncomfortable table. Huh...

Really, dude? I mean... I was always under the impression that Tywin was in denial over his kid's relationships and he now he is completely dumbfounded to her his daughter confirmed it. I couldn't tell if he was just too proud to admit it or simply ignorant to the whole affair.

We cut next to Tyrion's cell where he is awaiting for execution in the Black Cells, receives an unexpected visitor; Jaime, who swiftly breaks him out and puts him on a path towards Varys, his co-conspirator. They've arranged for a ship to take Tyrion away from the capitol. After a bittersweet goodbye between the brothers, Tyrion changes paths and makes for the Tower of the Hand. He enters his father's bedroom, finding a sleeping Shae underneath the covers. After a brief moment of shock as the two wordlessly see each other, Shae reaches for a knife while Tyrion runs to stop her. The two fight, but Tyrion gets the upper hand by snagging Shae by the necklace she's wearing. He chokes her to death, then lies beside the bed and utters a tearful, "I'm sorry."

Tyrion then takes a crossbow from the wall of the bedroom, and moves to the privy. He finds his father sitting there, who seems remarkably calm for a man with his son pointing a crossbow at him with his pants down. Tyrion asks Tywin why, when the latter knew the former was innocent of Joffrey's death, did he have him sentenced to execution? Tywin dismisses him, saying he'd never allow Tyrion to be executed and would've found a way out for him (though Tyrion seems to doubt the veracity of his claim). He also dismisses Tyrion's statement that he loved Shae, calling her a whore. Tyrion threatens to shoot him if he says that word again. Haughty to the last, his father doesn't think he's got the stones for it. Tywin says they'll go back to his chambers and speak with some dignity. His son says he can't go back, because she (Shae) is in there. "You're afraid of a dead whore?" Tywin quips. And before you know it, a crossbow bolt twangs and hits Tywin. As Tyrion calmly reloads, Tywin seems in shock that his son's shot him. "You are no son of mine," he hisses. "I am your son," insists Tyrion, forcing his father to confront his folly. "I have always been your son." He finishes the job with a bolt in Tywin's heart. And so dies in the most undignified ed Tywin Lannister, Hand of the King to Aerys II Targaryen and Joffrey Baratheon.

That is some gallow's humor sh*t right here.

Varys takes Tyrion in, asking in horror what he's done. He puts the dwarf in a box, asking him to trust Varys as he's led him this far. The box is put on a ship sailing out of King's Landing. As the bells in the capitol toll for Tywin's death, Varys gives the Red Keep one last, lingering look before boarding the ship with Tyrion and sailing off to parts unknown since he knows he will be implicated on Tywin's death.

Oh well, this is a crappy way to go, huh? Anyone? Anyone? Okay..... *sulks into a corner. On all seriousness, I should be celebrating that Tywin Lannister is dead since karma finally got someone who REALLY, REALLY, REALLY deserved it and you couldn't have a better person than Tyrion for being the one to kill him, not even one of the Starks... But my reaction to his death is just smh. Dude I don't care how powerful you are, no one is at their most vulnerable when they are attending nature's calling! You shouldn't try to bully someone with a murderous blood thirst who is pointing a crossbow at you.

On the bigger picture... Man, the Lannisters are f*cked. So f*cked... Their patriarch is now dead, their mines dried up and now their money lenders are supporting the biggest threat to their government, Stannis Baratheon. Looks like what Davos said to the Braavosi bankers will turn out to be true. Who is going to pick up the slack now that is gone? Well, nobody as capable and ruthless as he is I can tell you that. Jaime wants nothing to do with carrying his father's legacy. Cersei? Bitch is so incompetent and despise by everyone. Any other of the family's distant cousins? Please... As of right now, I don't think it would have being much of a exageration to say the Boltons are the ones doing much better now since they have unchallenged control of the North.

I'd love to see Cersei's face when she found out Tyrion had escaped, while she endure the knowledge she might never see Myrcella again, now she is an Martell hostage. She ain't going to like that for sure...

At the Riverlands

#fangirling

Brienne and Podrick were encamping on their way to the Bloody Gate, but end up losing their horses along the ride. Surprisingly they run in the way of... Wait for it, Arya and the Hound. In possibly a moment that made me giggle out of control when I saw both of them speaking about fighting with swords since I would wuv if Brienne had some warrior women talk with Arya <3 Unfortunately, the moment is ruined when the Hound appears and they recognize what each other's identities and intentions are. An argument between Sandor and Brienne quickly escalates and both of them end up drawing swords to which will be the one to protect Arya.

The fight scene between Sandor and Brienne is pretty well-coreographed, even though I had a real hard time in rooting for either side since I love both characters and they were both driven to protect Arya, unfortunately both their arguments were flawed - Arya is not really in good company with the Hound since there is a price in his head and Arya might be liable to go down with him should the worse happens, and while Brienne was sworn to deliver both Cat's daughters to safety, problem is there is absolutely nowhere safe for this girl - her whole family is dead, even relatives she never met were dead, as far as everyone is concerned, she is ABSOLUTELY alone in this world.

Their fight soon delves into a fierce brawl which both fighters don't hesitate to use some underhanded tactics such as punching each other in the jewels. After some agonizing moments, Brienne wins (very barely) by knocking Sandor off a cliff and falling off. Some of my friends complained that the fight's result was bullsh*t since Brienne couldn't win against the Hound specially in the books which she is less experienced than her series counterpart; I can see where they coming from, but if you remember, the Hound was suffering a serious injury and you can notice that he is favoring his left arm during the fight, so its anyone's guess if the fight would have turned out differently if he was at full strength.

Arya managed to slip away from Pod and Brienne and find Sandor mortally wounded and with a broken leg. He knows he won't have much left so he begs for the gift of mercy and to be put ouf of his misery. Arya is initially reluctant to do so, so he tries to goad her reminding her that he killed her friend Mycah - the butcher's son from way over the first season and gloats how he should have raped her sister Sansa way back in the Battle of Blackwater. This action turned out to a pretty unwise one, since Arya decides a gift of mercy is too good for him and leaves him to die slowly and alone.

She manages to reach a port with an vessel and try to arrange a travel to the North, but the captain refuses it. Instead she gives him the coin that Jaqen H'ghar gave her in Season 2 and says the words. With that the season ends as Arya is sailing East to Braavos, the place that comparetively sucks the least in the world of Ice and Fire.

Oh well, it looks like Braavos will feature more in the next season, and she will likely meet J'aqen Haghar once again and I am totally okay with that :)

Closing Thoughts

This was pretty damn good episode, there were few things that annoyed me about it but not enough to pull it all down for me. Bookreaders will know this but I was specially annoyed by a certain scene that didn't make it through (and not talking about just the elk-riding dude above), but for the most part the show did a good job in delivering the best scenes in the show. I had to think a lot about it, this is probably the best finale compared to other seasons and its also the one that ends on more happier note for some characters such as Tyrion being safe, Bran reached his destination, Stannis saved the Night's Watch and Arya is leaving that rotten carcass of a continent behind.

Now closing thoughts on this season as a whole, it has being a pretty solid one and an major improvement from Season 3 I think. Now I am on this tangent, I will admit that Season 3 had its moments such as the Sack of Astapor, the Hound vs Berric and the Red Wedding, but also a LOT of boring scenes that with so much exposition that it was hard to keep invested on them, on top of having the weakest finale and premiere in all series. This season as a whole had more action-driven scenes and kept enough momentum that they managed to make scenes that were clearly padding entertaining without you noticing it and for the most part, even scenes in King's Lading were strolled over the gardens like they always do did have some gravitas and managed to keep my investment for the most part. I even enjoyed the curve balls this season threw like the true nature about the White Walkers (even though its somewhat detrimental in the long run for the book's if you know what I am saying), some unexpected characters' deaths and among some other plot changes that had worked than in the books.

As for Season 5 though, I don't feel as excited for it right now which is strange, I know since this episode ended on a pretty strong note. I am not looking forward much for it because they are now supposed to adapt the fourth book "A Feast of Crows" which is generally held as the low point of the series and that doesn't inspire much confidence. But since they had spliced some storylines from Book 5 into this one that was based on the last third of Book 3, while still making things compelling enough... Who knows, a lot of things can change until them, I might not be around here anymore and maybe Martin will release the next book so he doesn't have the risk of the series overtaking his work.

So thank you guys for sticking around to my reviews! I am really proud for doing them every Monday on schedule, even though they were really tiresome to write. I appreciate all comments and I'd like to thank all my friends for being so supportive ^__^ I'd like to hear your own opinion in this finale and the season as a whole.

See ya next time =P

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